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International Swimming League accused of ongoing financial mismanagement by former executives

International Swimming League accused of ongoing financial mismanagement by former executives
September 18, 2021

The International Swimming League (ISL) has been accused of failing to pay suppliers and vendors from as far back as two years ago by two former executives from the series.

The pair, Jean-François Salessy, General Manager of the Energy Standard team and ISL Commercial Director Hubert Montcoudiol resigned from their roles in November last year due to what they viewed as a slew of governance, financial and ethical problems.

In an open letter, ‘Nothing’s Changed’, released to Australasian Leisure Management today, Salessy claims that the ISL saw "swimmers’ agents, general managers, service providers, technicians and support staff are just extras in this movie, replaceable at will".

This follows an open letter sent by Salessy at the time of his resignation which heavily criticised ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin for his approach in running the league.

In the latest letter, Salessy and Montcoudiol wrote that ISL has allegedly neglected to properly pay supporting vendors and people, like press officials, webmasters, team managers, and even some elite swimmers.

While not naming any businesses or individuals specifically, Salessy and Montcoudiol wrote that what they have witnessed directly contradicts ISL’s promise to honour all obligations to suppliers ahead of season three.

However, Australasian Leisure Management is aware that content agency LiveWire Sport undertook legal action over the ISL's failure to pay debts.

In a statement, it advised "we have been waiting over 10 months now for full payment for the services provided to ISL for season one.

"This is despite ISL acknowledging the debt and saying they intend to pay the outstanding amount.

"We have received advice from lawyers in the UK and Switzerland (where ISL is registered) and our lawyers in the UK have sent a letter to ISL informing them that if the debt is not paid in full we will commence court proceedings in England and if need be will also take steps in Switzerland."

A year later, Salessy and Montcoudiol now claim many of the debts remain unpaid.

Their open letter read “last November, we resigned from our positions of Head Commercial ISL and General Manager Energy Standard, by denouncing the lightness of ISL's practices towards its suppliers and employees.

"As of September 17, 2021, seven matches into ISL Season 3, the situation remains the same: bills remain unpaid!"

The statement claimed the current season has been organised "in spite of ongoing issues with creditors", that the ISL's "unprofessional behaviour" is "yet to be resolved", and that not all of the swimmers have received payment.

Salessy and Montcoudiol continued "some audiovisual production partners, and other essential vendors are paid on an arbitrary basis when others are not.

"The list of victims of such behaviours includes some Hungarian vendors, a communication agency, press officials, travel agencies, team managers, operational directors, webmasters, digital agency specialists, and other consultants."

Claim the total figure owed is now into seven figures, their statement concludes “it is clear that the ISL founder, chief executive and management team do not respect their promises.

"They hide themselves by arguing that 'contracts aren’t in place', that 'we recognise there are issues' or that 'we’re surprised to hear there are issues' and that 'we are actively working to resolve issues...'

"The swimming ecosystem doesn’t need to be weakened any further.

"Generating hopes and then disappointing them is terrible."

The ISL previously claimed it will need to "close all outstanding issues from the past" before preparations for the current season began.

In a statement from November 2020, it advised "for the first two seasons, we have been mostly focused on showcasing athlete talent and our product to the widest audience possible.

"We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic, our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising.

"The way we approach the market will need to be different going forward.

"Our head-down approach to deliver Season 2020 may have caused friction with some suppliers but we will honour all obligations, which are less than five per cent of last year’s overall expenditure."

The breakaway league is bankrolled by Ukrainian billionaire Grigorishin, who claimed the ISL helped save the sport amid the closure of swimming pools and no competitive events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor’s note: The claims made by Jean-François Salessy and Hubert Montcoudiol have not been independently investigated by Australasian Leisure Management.

Click here to read Jean-François Salessy and Hubert Montcoudiol’s open letter.

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